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In robocalls to California voters, Donald Trump has a message: register Republican

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As the conventions draw closer for both parties, Democrat and GOP leaders sift through the delegate and nomination process.

Snapshot from the trail: Hillary Clinton in Pennsylvania

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Listen to Donald Trump robocall urging California’s ‘no party preference’ voters to register as Republicans

Donald Trump has a message for people who are not registered with a political party in California: switch your affiliation to Republican in order to vote in the June 7 primary.

In robocalls to nearly 1 million “independents” in the state, the billionaire businessman encourages them to registers as Republicans so they can vote in the closed primary.

(As The Times has been reporting, there is no “independent” designation in California, and many thousands of people are mistakenly registered in the American Independent Party.)

Trump is seeking to secure the 1,237 delegates needed to capture the GOP nomination over his rivals, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Ohio Gov. John Kasich. Both Cruz and Kasich say they will stay in the race and are aiming to secure the nomination in a contested convention in July in Cleveland.

“In order for your vote to count you must be registered to vote as a Republican,” Trump says in the robocall. Several people from Orange County to Sacramento reported receiving a call Friday.

Listen to the call below.

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Donald Trump’s California campaign is calling independents

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Now awaiting word on whether he’s also tied to alien abduction of Elvis

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John Kasich slates a San Francisco town hall ahead of California’s GOP convention

It’s beginning to look a lot like a presidential campaign in California.

Campaigns are opening headquarters, hiring staff, shopping for TV ad time and lining up candidate appearances around the state. It’s not like the invasion of Iowa or New Hampshire, but it’s a start.

On Friday, word came that Ohio Gov. John Kasich will be holding a town hall April 29 in San Francisco, hosted by the Commonwealth Club. The event at the prestigious speaker’s forum will be moderated by Kori Schake, a research fellow at Stanford’s Hoover Institution.

Later Friday, Kasich will be the dinner speaker at the state Republican Party convention just down the road in Burlingame.

Donald Trump will be Friday’s luncheon speaker at the party gathering, and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz is due to give Saturday’s lunchtime speech.

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Donald Trump, with an eye on the general election, will deliver foreign policy address next week

Donald Trump wants to talk foreign policy -- seriously.

Trump, who is starting to focus on the general election as he expands his delegate lead over two rivals for the Republican presidential nomination, has scheduled his first speech on foreign policy on Wednesday in Washington.

The speech will be hosted by the Center for the National Interest, formerly known as the Nixon Center, according to an invitation. Zalmay Khalilzad, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations under President George W. Bush, will preside over the event.

Since launching his insurgent campaign last year, Trump’s comments on foreign policy have often been vague. But in recent weeks, he has challenged GOP orthodoxy and long-standing U.S. policies on several fronts.

He has suggested that the NATO military alliance, a bedrock of U.S. policy in Europe for decades, is obsolete even as NATO members worry about what they deem Russian aggression in Ukraine.

And he stunned allies in Asia when he suggested he was open to letting Japan and South Korea develop nuclear weapons rather than rely on their long-standing alliances with the United States.

Trump has hired new senior aides in recent weeks, and it’s not known who was helping him write his first major foreign policy address. He previously had identified a small team of advisors, but few were well known or had spent time as policymakers.

Trump will give his speech a day after primary contests in five Northeastern states -- Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island.

The billionaire businessman is the strong favorite in each of those states over his remaining challengers, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Ohio Gov. John Kasich.

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Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a Clinton ally, reinstates voting rights to convicted felons

The decision Friday by Virginia’s Democratic governor, Terry McAuliffe, to reinstate the voting rights of almost a quarter-million convicted felons could reverberate into the general election.

McAuliffe, who has close ties to Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton, announced he will use his executive power to restore voting rights to more than 200,000 convicted felons who have served their sentences -- many of them African Americans, a core voting bloc of Democrats.

McAuliffe’s move circumvented the state’s GOP-controlled Legislature and immediately sparked complaints.

“We will ensure everyone with freedom to live in our communities has the right to participate in the democratic process,” McAuliffe said on Twitter.

State laws vary on the right to vote for ex-felons.

Across the country, about 5.85 million Americans with felony convictions are prevented from casting ballots, according to the American Civil Liberties Union.

Virginia has some of the strictest laws when it comes to voting rights for felons. The nonpartisan Sentencing Project estimates that one in five African Americans in Virginia is disenfranchised.

McAuliffe served as chairman of Hillary Clinton’s 2008 failed presidential campaign. He is a former chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

Long considered a Republican bastion, Virginia has turned more purple in recent years. President Obama won the state in both 2008 and 2012.

Virginia has liberal pockets in the northern and coastal parts of the state. It is more reliably Republican in rural areas further south and around the state’s large military bases.

Clinton won the state’s Democratic primary over rival Bernie Sanders last month with more than 64% of the vote.

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Trump, Cruz split over North Carolina transgender bathroom law

Ted Cruz called opponents of the controversial North Carolina transgender bathroom law “stark raving nuts.” That includes his rival Donald Trump.

Underscoring their contrasting conservative views, the top GOP candidates argued this week about the law, which restricts transgender bathroom access and stops cities in North Carolina from implementing anti-discrimination laws on their own.

The law has drawn a wide outcry and prompted several cities in the U.S. and the British government to either ban travel to North Carolina or warn gay, lesbian and transgender travelers against visiting the state.

Trump said he supports allowing someone like reality show star Caitlyn Jenner to choose the bathroom meant for the sex with which they identify.

“There’s a big move to create new bathrooms. The problem with that is for transgender ... First of all, I think that would be discriminatory in a certain way,” he said in a town hall on NBC. “... Leave it the way it is.”

Cruz, though, called that proposal an example proving the “lunacy” of political correctness. People and politicians that oppose the law have “gone of the deep end,” he said.

“The idea that grown men would be allowed alone in a bathroom with little girls, you don’t need to be a behavioral psychologist to realize bad things can happen,” Cruz said in a Thursday interview with conservative radio host Glenn Beck.

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How the presidential nomination delegate process really works

As the presidential primary race slogs on for both major parties, one thing has become increasingly clear: It’s not (just) about the voters.

Of course, candidates are chasing wins in the popular vote tallied in primary elections and caucuses. Just as crucially, though, they are seeking to rack up delegates to their party conventions, a related task that will actually determine who becomes the presidential nominees.

Understanding the delegate chase requires both vocabulary and math lessons.

Delegates are the party stalwarts, elected officials and grass-roots activists who represent their respective states at the national conventions this summer and vote for a nominee.

Though the Republican race has garnered more attention, the Democrats’ process is a more straightforward place to start.

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How are Pennsylvania’s GOP delegates selected? Most voters don’t have a clue

If this year’s presidential primaries offer an education on the nation’s byzantine voting rules, Pennsylvania may need its own extra-credit seminar.

The state is the largest among five voting Tuesday and will be crucial in deciding who secures the GOP presidential nomination, whether it’s determined before or during this summer’s Republican National Convention in Cleveland.

Yet voters here say they have little confidence their preferences will be carried out. And most don’t even understand how the process works.

“You vote and you just sit back and wait and see how the pieces fall into place,” said Abby Swank, a 30-year-old registered Republican from Lancaster.

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